Christiane has an exclusive interview with President Thein Sein about Myanmar's fast-changing relations with the world.
By Samuel Burke
(CNN) - The big question for world leaders at the NATO summit in Chicago – is there a way to keep Greece in the eurozone? Among those leaders is Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission. He is insisting that Greece must not renege on its austerity promise – a promise of financial reform and deep cuts.
In an exclusive interview with Christiane Amanpour Monday, Barroso said, “This is our firm commitment, and of course it's important that now Greece respects its commitment. And just coming from the G8 summit in Camp David, it was a clear statement that all the members of G8 – not only the European Union – believe that it is in our interest that Greece stays in the euro zone.”
But just last week Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greek’s left-wing party Syriza, told Amanpour that if he’s elected Prime Minister he would destroy many of the agreements Barroso says Greece must respect. “We will cancel the memorandum, and then we will go to renegotiate at the European level about a common way to go out to get out of this crisis.”
In response to Tsipras comments, Mr. Barroso said, “Greece signed the memorandum. It was approved by the Greek government and the Greek parliament.” He added, “It’s sensible to respect the commitment. “
And while Barroso maintained that European institutions are ready to do their best to help the Greek people, he made it clear that in his eyes many sacrifices had already been made. “If you put together all of the support – in terms of grants and loans, and also write-off of private debt, it corresponds roughly to 177 percent of the Greek GDP. To compare, the Marshall Plan was, on average, two percent of GDP of the countries that were receiving aid. So the problem is not a question of lack of support to Greece, the problem is a question of Greece implementing the necessary reforms so that it can come back to growth. This is indeed the problem.”
The upcoming election could signal how and if the Greek people are willing to implement the reforms Barroso describes. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office denied reports that Merkel said the upcoming in elections in Greece are a referendum on the euro, but Barroso told Amanpour “[it’s] up to our Greek friends to find the right way to implement the commitments taken.” He added, “One thing is clear, we will respect the Greek democracy. At the same time, we have to respect those of the 16 other democracies that approved the program. So it's up to the Greeks to decide what they want to do, and we will respect, of course, that decision.”
Barroso maintains that European leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to get the Greeks to implement the reforms on the ground – reforms Greece had previously agreed to.
If Greece doesn’t implement them, it could find the tool box that the euro zone has supplied lacking money and only filled with administrative tools.
“That is why we are now,” Barroso said, “providing technical assistance to Greece.”